The Simple Process of Making Wine At Home

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You’ve probably heard of home brewing beer, but did you know it’s perfectly possible to make your own wine at home?

Making wine at home isn’t easy and does involve a fair bit work, but it’s a simple process and extremely rewarding. You can make enough for several cases and spend as little as a couple of bucks a bottle. You can get all the equipment you need from a home brew store, and many of them sell starter kits.

For your first brew, it’s worth buying a ready-made concentrated grape juice. Your local home brew store should have a variety of concentrates in varieties you will recognise, such as Chardonnay. You can use your own juice (from virtually any fruit), but the results can be hit and miss so it’s best to wait until you’ve got to grips with the brewing process before you start experimenting.

The three most important things to remember during the wine-making process are:

1) you should make the wine in an area below 23C;

2) any plastic equipment you use is made of FDA-approved food-grade plastic; and

3) you must thoroughly clean anything that is about to come into contact with the wine.

A starter kit will come with full instructions for the particular equipment you are using, but the general process does not change much. You start by pouring the juice (or concentrate) into a 30-liter plastic container. The aim here is to have 23 liters of juice (either pure, or concentrate topped up with water) at between 18-23C. Then you add yeast, preferably special wine yeast designed for the type of juice you are using.

After stirring the liquid for around a minute, you check the specific gravity (also known as density) with an instrument called a hydrometer. The reading should be at least 1.01 – if it’s any lower, you will need to add some sugar syrup.

Next you put the lid (which should not be airtight) on the container and leave it for a week. It will bubble for a couple of days until the yeast drops to the bottom.

When the week is up, you siphon the juice into a 23-liter glass or plastic container known as a carboy, making sure to leave the sediment behind. You then attach a bung and an airlock to the top of the carboy. This allows carbon dioxide to escape during the fermentation process.

After ten days, you start checking the specific gravity again, preferably by using a small pipette called a wine thief to avoid having to tip the carboy. You check every day until:

1) the specific gravity is 0.998 or lower; and
2) the reading is the same two days running.

You then remove the bung and add a chemical called bentonite, stir hard and fast for five minutes, then replace the bung. You then leave the wine for two weeks to settle. After this, you simply siphon the wine into bottles, add corks (using a corking machine which you can buy, rent or borrow), leave the bottles upright for three days, and then store them on their sides for at least a month.

White wine will then be ready to drink, but Red wine needs to be left for at least six months.

Please remember that this guide is simply an explanation of the home winemaking process, rather than an instructional guide. If you are starting out on home winemaking, you should use a starter kit and follow the instructions very carefully.

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